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The crisis in Catalonia's prisons does not seem, for now, to have a solution in sight. Unions and workers' representatives have broken off any kind of official dialogue with Catalan justice minister Gemma Ubasart and her team, and are at loggerheads with the department after last week's murder of a cook at Mas d'Enric penitentiary near Tarragona. Although the justice ministry has approved changes and an increase in prison staff numbers, they have not accepted the central demands of the unions and workers and none of the senior officials of the Catalan prison service has been dismissed

The prison workers are keeping alive the revolt that began last Friday and today they tried to once again blockade access to the prisons, a move that the Mossos d'Esquadra police, deploying public order squads, were able to avoid. Police created corridors that allowed this morning's shift changes, although some workers were not able to enter the centres, which forced prison management to suspend some activities, such as judicial visits. During the day, some transfers and ordinary services planned could not be held, with protests and blockades being repeated outside prisons in several parts of Catalonia.

More police resources on Tuesday

To prevent the same situation repeating tomorrow, Catalan vice president Laura Vilagrà this Monday brought together the interior minister Joan Ignasi Elena with justice head Ubasart to coordinate actions. The Mossos police, as can inform, will strengthen their presence at prison gates on Tuesday to avoid blockades. That is one of the measures - and the one with most impact - agreed this afternoon at the Palau of the Generalitat. Earlier, Ubasart had underlined the gravity of the situation in the prisons. "It is a very serious situation, both for workers and for inmates, and fundamental rights are being violated", she said. When asked about the fact that inmates had been unable to go to trials - with around 50 trials having been suspended since last Wednesday - nor lawyers to assist their clients, she noted that "there is no strike called", adding that not even minimum services are being met, but insisting that the department had "a hand stretched out for dialogue".


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Catalan vice-president Vilagrà with ministers Elena and Ubasart, this afternoon at the Palau / ACN

Although it was possible to guarantee the prison shift changes today, the Catalan police will deploy more force on Tuesday to maintain services and the general functioning of the prisons throughout the day. The justice department has requested this measure due to the seriousness of the prison crisis that erupted after the murder last week in the penitentiary near Tarragona, which destroyed the weak peace that existed between the administration and prison officers over the safety of workers.

Expecting a Tuesday of protests

Unions and prison workers will decide in several assemblies whether to try and repeat their blockades this Tuesday. The Mossos d'Esquadra will not only guarantee shift changes, they will also deploy many more resources to prevent protests outside prisons. It remains to be seen how this increase in police presence will be interpreted by the officers staging the revolt. Both the department and organizations monitoring prisoners have regretted that the right to protest of the prison workers is colliding with the right to a legal defence and other human rights of the inmates. This Monday almost 4,000 inmates were confined to their cells due to the lack of staff inside the prisons.